Breath is Life! I read this statement somewhere recently and it got me thinking. Sure, without breathing there is no life. So at that basic level the statement is true. As I pondered further, it struck me that there is another vital element in breathing that needs our attention – breathing quality.
Most people go about their daily lives completely unaware of their breathing. The muscles of the respiratory system involved in each breath – the lungs, diaphragm and intercostals muscles, as well as the nasal passage, trachea and many other body parts – all do their job involuntarily. We do not have to consciously think about breathing, it’s done for us. So we tend to take breathing for granted.
Added to this, our modern lifestyle has led to a decrease in the functional capacity of our breathing apparatus. In other words, we sit around too much and don’t breathe properly. See if you can notice this for yourself. Watch your breath for a few moments and, without changing your breathing pattern, notice whether or not your abdomen rises with each inhalation. Chances are there’s not much going on there. Like most people, you breath is probably very shallow, breathing into your chest and utilizing only a fraction of your lung capacity.
You can begin, right now, to make a fundamental and life-affirming change. You can learn to breathe fully again! Making this change right now will begin to increase the quality of your life. You will begin, once again, to properly exercise your respiratory muscles, making you more efficient with each breath. But that’s not all. As well as improving your overall health and lung capacity, you will be able to complete daily tasks with more ease. You will also realize improvements in your sleep. Best of all, you will become more connected to your inner body. Breathing correctly, as any yoga or meditation practitioner will tell you, is a spiritual practice.
Imagine being able to achieve all this with just a few minutes practice daily. Set aside some time, even as little as 5-minutes to begin with – to practice deep breathing. Simply use the exercise below once or twice daily, or whenever you can take a moment. You’ll soon begin to reap the rewards and become more centered and self-aware to boot.
Deep Breath Training – a simple exercise to improve the efficiency of your respiratory muscles.
Start by standing straight against a wall or sitting comfortably, with good posture. Tuck you chin in slightly to align you spine, ensure you have a neutral arch in your back and relax your shoulders. Place your hands on top of your abdomen at the base of your rib-cage.
Take a deep breath in through the mouth for a count of 4 seconds. You should notice your abdomen rise first as air fills your lower lungs. Then notice your chest rise as air filters to the upper lungs. Then exhale through the mouth for 4 seconds, allowing the breath to simply fall out. Focus on completely collapsing the abdomen to push out all the air (your hands will sink into your abdomen). Do not pause between inhalation and exhalation. Start by doing 5-minutes daily, working up to 10-15mins in the morning, afternoon and evening or as desired.